Boise State notebook: Ajayi hits 1,000

ccripe@idahostatesman.comNovember 2, 2013 

AJAYI HITS 1,000

Sophomore tailback Jay Ajayi hit the rushing milestone with a 4-yard gain early in the third quarter. The Broncos have had a 1,000-yard rusher in five straight seasons, with four different backs: Jeremy Avery (2009), Doug Martin (2010-11), D.J. Harper (2012) and Ajayi (2013).

Ajayi reached 1,000 yards in nine games — fewest since Ian Johnson in 2006 (eight) — and in 168 carries — fewest since Martin in 2010 (158).

Ajayi finished with 13 carries for 91 yards. He has 1,008 yards on the season. He left the game briefly in the third quarter after a hard hit, but did returned. He was not on the field late in the game.

POOR START AGAIN

The Broncos worked all week on trying to break their habit of poor starts — and then got off to their worst start of the year.

Colorado State drove 63 yards for a field goal on its opening drive, recovered a botched exchange by quarterback Grant Hedrick and Ajayi on the Broncos’ first play and drove 18 yards for a touchdown. That made it 10-0.

The Broncos also allowed a season-long, 61-yard kickoff return in the quarter and dropped a pass on third-and-1.

Colorado State led 10-7 at the end of the quarter — the Broncos’ third straight first-quarter deficit.

Coming into the game, the Broncos had their lowest point total (48) and worst point differential (plus-7) in the first quarter.

STRONG SECOND QUARTER

The Broncos have scored their most points in the second quarter — 108 going into the game. And they outscored the Rams 21-7 in that quarter. For the season, the Broncos have outscored opponents 129-82 in the second quarter.

THIRD QUARTER FITS, TOO

The Broncos have played their best defense this season in the third quarter. They had allowed 34 points coming into Saturday’s game — and they shut out the Rams.

TURNOVERS PROVE KEY

Boise State’s run of turnover problems continued in the first quarter when the eighth lost fumble of the season occurred on the first offensive snap.

However, the Broncos collected their first takeaway since the fourth quarter Oct. 12 at Utah State when true freshman defensive end Gabe Perez forced a fumble by scrambling quarterback Garrett Grayson and linebacker Tyler Gray recovered late in the first half. That led to a Boise State TD.

The Broncos’ turnover drought lasted nine full quarters, plus parts of two more. Total time elapsed: 155 minutes, 28 seconds.

FIVE STARTERS OUT

Boise State played without five starters because of injuries. Senior defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe did not travel after showing concussion symptoms after practice during the week. Right tackle Rees Odhiambo, linebacker Blake Renaud and quarterback Joe Southwick didn’t travel. Wide receiver Kirby Moore traveled but served as a play signaler in street clothes again.

Linebacker Jonathan Brown and safety Jeremy Ioane, who did not play against BYU, made the trip. Ioane started and Brown, who had not played since the opener (knee), entered on the third possession.

TARGETING ISSUES

The Broncos played the first half without backup safety and key special-teamer Dillon Lukehart, who was required to stay in the locker room to serve a suspension stemming from his targeting foul a week earlier at BYU. CBS Sports Network reported he rode an exercise bike in the locker room.

They nearly lost backup cornerback Cleshawn Page for the second half. Page was flagged for kick-catch interference and targeting early in the third quarter. The targeting penalty — which carries an automatic ejection and would have cost Page the first half of the next game — was overturned on replay. The Mountain West office still could review the play and add a penalty.

QUICK HITS

Boise State captains: Hedrick, DE Beau Martin, WR Aaron Burks and DL Tyler Horn. … The Broncos didn’t have a Hammer winner against BYU. That also happened last year after a loss at San Diego State. … Redshirt freshman Travis Averill made his first start, at right tackle. … Colorado State kicker Jared Roberts hit the crossbar from 47 yards on the last play of the first half. His timing appeared to be thrown off by a high snap. … The line judge was Catherine Conti, a rare female game official in college football.

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